A recent poll shows approval ratings for President Bush's two Scottish Terriers to be at all-time lows, with Barney tipping the scale at a scant 11.1 percent.
Mss Beazley, the president's other Scottie, came in at only 14.5 percent, slightly better than the presidential cat, India (16 percent). Oddly, Bush's Longhorn cow, Ofelia, who lives on his Texas ranch, came up first with a surprise 32 percent approval rating.
"We're not sure how this could be possible," said Steve Scott of Ipsos, the polling company that conducted the survey. "Ever since Ipsos began testing pet approval ratings in 1825, presidential pet approval ratings have normally hovered between 70 and 90 percent, even while particular president's ratings might have been quite low. Even if, basically, the animal was not something one would normally associate with cute, like John Quincy Adams' alligator (64 percent) or Teddy Roosevelt's badger (91 percent), their rating was still usually quite high. The low approval ratings for Bush's pets don't make any sort of statistical sense and have baffled all of our staff for weeks."
The negative numbers are definitely not a good sign for the ever-faltering Bush administration, added Scott who said that Ipsos conducted two more test polls to make sure that the original did not fall within the margin of error, but got similar results each time.
Mss Beazley is reported to be quite depressed by her rating and has not eaten much for the last several days, while Barney has been refusing to play fetch and spends most of the day growling at the president's staff, instead of his normal behaviour of rolling on his back and begging for a belly rub.
The lowest pet approval rating ever was for Woodrow Wilson's favoured pet, Old Ike the "tobacco-chewing ram", who hovered around 10 percent for Wilson's two terms. Although, historians say that the negative public reaction to the animal had as much do to with its terrible halitosis, due to its "chew habit", as with public disapproval of Wilson - a self-described "dog person" who lost the loyalty of millions of cat-loving Americans by openly declaring from the White House lawn that "All men may be created equal, but the cunning canine is far superior to the fickle feline".
Perhaps the best loved pets in American political history belonged to Calvin Coolidge. Rebecca and Horace, Coolidge and his wife Grace's twin raccoons, so endeared themselves into the American consciousness that at one point in his administration, they polled an unbelievable 98 and 99 percent respectively. There was even a national campaign to have the raccoons made the country's official animals but Coolidge declined out of respect for the feelings of his 12 dogs, two cats, four canaries, goose, mockingbird, donkey, bobcat, lion cubs, wallaby, pigmy hippo, and pet bear.
"That these cute, furry little animals have such low approval ratings is just another sign that this despicably incompetent president has lost the support of the majority of Americans," said Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) from the Senate floor earlier in the week.
Clinton added that when her husband, Bill Clinton was president, their dog Buddy and cat Socks consistently polled in the upper eighties.
Republican Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner (R-VA) harshly rebutted Clinton's criticism, arguing that any talk of the public's general dislike of Barney, Mss Beazley and India should be off-limits unless Clinton wanted him to bring up the fact that Buddy, the chocolate lab, arrived in the Clintons' life just in time to distract the public from the scandalous revelation that Socks had impregnated Monica Lewinsky's cat, Tinkerbell.
"I find it absolutely deplorable that defeatist Democrats would be using such a private matter for the president and his family for personal, political gain. Criticism of the presidential pets' low approval ratings undermines the troops in Iraq and shows the terrorists that America is a weak and indecisive nation," he said later at a special wreath laying memorial ceremony for Richard Nixon's dog Checkers at the presidential pet cemetary in Arlington, Virginia.